Nutrition for People With or Without Diabetes – it's how we should all eat

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Night Eating and Weight

Night-time eating is a bit of a confusing subject. Perhaps you’ve heard eating at night will cause you to gain weight. The answer is….maybe. Depending on what you’re eating and if your sleep is not regular or sufficient, yes, you could.

night time eating and weight gain

The Center for Science in the Public Interest reported on a study where test subjects who ate between 11 pm and 5 am on at least one night gained, on average, 14 pounds over the next three years. The subjects who didn’t eat between those hours, only gained 4 pounds over the following three years.

The subjects who ate late at night were consuming 300 more calories than those who were not late eaters.

Also, if you’re up late at night eating, this might also mean you aren’t getting adequate sleep. Less sleep can also mean more calories and more weight.

The Harvard School of Health states that there are numerous studies showing a link between insufficient sleep and obesity. Some studies show that those who sleep less, tend to eat late at night and consume an average of 550 extra calories between 10pm and 4am.

Sleep deprivation has effects on brain activity and may change reward and impulse control. Other research has found that lack of sleep raises blood sugar, makes insulin less effective, and boosts the hormone (ghrelin) that signals hunger.

If you get enough sleep and manage your calories, you shouldn’t have a problem with what time of day you eat. So the thought that “eating after 7pm will cause you to gain weight” is untrue….unless you’re eating more calories than you should. Eating extra calories at ANY time, day or night, will result in weight gain.

Bottom line: Get adequate sleep and keep your calories under control. If night-time is a trigger to eat when you are alone, find other things to keep you occupied or talk with a therapist.

For more information on sleep deprivation and health see Sleep-More Important Than You Know.

Mandy Seay is a registered and licensed dietitian and certified diabetes educator. She works as a nutrition consultant in Austin, Texas, specializing in diabetes, weight loss, lipid control, and preventative nutrition. For more health articles and nutrition information, check out Mandy’s website Nutritionistics.

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Cleansing and Detoxing

Tis the season….everyone is talking about detoxes and cleanses. Many people see cleanses and detoxes as a renewing and rejuvenation process that can “reset” the body, help them clean out the “junk” in their body, or jump-start their next diet.

However, detoxes and cleanses (usually characterized by fasting or consuming herbs, a restricted diet, or other unusual practices) have not been scientifically proven as being beneficial. In some cases, detoxes can cause more harm than good.

Long term effects could lead to nutrient deficiencies, muscle breakdown, blood-sugar problems, and frequent liquid bowel movements. By depriving the body of what it needs, you’ll actually reduce the body’s ability to fight off infection and manage inflammation. In fact, you’re making your body struggle to function properly.

In addition, you’ll are almost guaranteed to experience fatigue, irritability, headache, aches and pains, etc. This is a not a sign of good health – this is your body signaling that something is wrong.

Your liver, skin, lungs, and kidneys are very effective at removing toxins and impurities from the body; that is their function.

If you feel that you truly need a major change, instead do something that is healthy for your body. I challenge you to spend a week eating nothing but fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, tofu, and lean dairy. Just make sure you are keeping things balanced. Eat as much as you like of these foods and see how you feel. I guarantee you’ll feel better than any cleanse or detox will leave you feeling.

If you can, extend your “healthy cleanse” to 2-3 weeks, by then you will have developed new healthy habits and maybe you’ll continue to eat that way….who knows…? Give it a shot!

Buen Provecho!

Mandy Seay is a registered and licensed dietitian. She works as a nutrition consultant in Austin, Texas specializing in diabetes, weight loss, lipid control and preventative nutrition. For more health articles and nutrition information, check out Mandy’s website Nutritionistics.

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Happy New Year! Here’s to a Healthy 2014!

Happy New Year to You and Yours!

So….any resolutions for a healthier lifestyle this year? If so, how are they going? Was it just one goal or many? Are you struggling or are you sailing along smoothly? If you need some help and/or ideas read on….

lose weight, exercise, health, healthy lifestyle

Make your goals SMART


Even if you already have a goal, make sure it’s a SMART goals, that meals  Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Smart goals provide you with a road map to get you to where you need to be.

For example:

  • Instead of saying, “I am going to eat healthier this year.” A SMART goal would be “I am going to reduce my restaurant meals from 4 a week to 1.” Saying you’d never eat out again, would certainly be unrealistic.
  • Instead of saying, “I am going to exercise more.” A SMART goal would be “I will exercise for 30 minutes 5 days a week.” Every day would probably be unrealistic and unattainable – give yourself a break.

How can you change your current goals into SMART goals? Remember, a goal shouldn’t be “all or nothing” – give yourself a break every now and then, because realistically, you know that is going to happen.

Make a list

One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to take on new health goals is taking on too much at one time – it might be exciting and rewarding at first, but it can easily (and quickly) become overwhelming and seem too rigid. Pick one to two goals, master them and then start one or two new ones. In no time, your life will be transformed with little effort.

Try an app

There are apps for everything now – you can track what you ate, how far you went on a run or walk, your sleep quality, and some even give you workout routines and/or motivation.

Go online

Check out what’s available online as far as exercise goes. There are plenty of places that offer LOW online memberships for yoga or workouts like Gaiam or Youtube even has some free workouts listed including some by Jillian Michaels from The Biggest Loser.

Buy a gadget

The cold winter months make it less enticing to work out, I know this first hand. Consider buying a new fitness gadget that will make exercise fun. A pedometer is great for people who want to just get in more steps each day – if you haven’t reached your goal towards the end of the day, just take a brisk stroll around your office. For those who exercise a bit more vigorously, you might want to consider a heart rate monitor. This little gadget is one of my favorites because it tells me how many calories I burned on my workout!

Join a group

For some people, accountability is key to sticking to a health goal. Consider joining a walking/jogging/swimming group – or create your own at work with others who are motivated and have similar goals.

Plan ahead

The key to success is planning. If you don’t have a lot of time, sit down on a day/night you do have free (maybe the weekend?) and figure out how your week will go. Plan your exercise like you would a doctor’s appointments. Figure out how your meals will work into your day – make batches of healthy pre-portioned meals ahead so that all you have to do is grab them on your busy days. Look for pitfalls before they occur and figure out a solution now.

More resources

For more help, check out my other posts like: Meal Planning Made Simple, Easy and Free (or Very Cheap) Fitness Options, Lose 10 pounds in a year easily.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, send me a message and I’ll do my best to help you out – I’d love to hear from you!

Mandy Seay is an RD, LD, CDE. She works as a nutrition consultant in Austin, Texas, specializing in diabetes, weight loss, lipid control and preventative nutrition. Mandy is not receiving any compensation or otherwise from any products/services listed in this article.

For more health articles and nutrition information, check out Mandy’s website Nutritionistics.

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Easy and Free (or Very Cheap) Fitness Options

Are you motivated to exercise but feel that your budget, the weather, and/or lack of neighborhood amenities or safety is holding you back? Or do you just need some cheap ways to vary your workout routine? If any, or all, of these describe your situation read below.

Free, easy exercise

Jump Rope

If you’re pressed for time and space, jumping rope is a great way to improve your cardiovascular fitness while toning up. You use various muscles when jumping rope including your core, calves, shoulders, and upper back. In addition to improving your fitness, you’ll also see benefits in coordination, balance, and agility.

Consider doing this several times throughout the day or during the commercial breaks on television.

The American Council on Exercise offers these suggestions for those  just starting out:

  • Keep a light grip on the handles.
  • Hold your elbows close to your body and keep your shoulders relaxed.
  • Keep your knees slightly bent.
  • Use your wrist to turn the rope and create a smooth arc in the rope as it swings over your head.
  • Maintain good posture with your head up and back straight.
  • Don’t jump too high. This will help reduce impact on knees and ankles.

(Health Day News)

Free Boot Camp

Boot camps are typically very challenging workouts that have become extremely popular over the past year or so. However, these classes can be extremely expensive. You can skip the expense by taking advantage of the free boot camp classes that companies use for marketing purposes. Because there are so many boot camp companies, you’ll likely have no trouble finding one that fits into your schedule. Check out to see if any are happening in your area.

DVDs and Videos

If you prefer to stay in the comfort of your own home and exercise on your own time, consider using exercise videos. There are DVDs and VHS exercise videos on just about every type of exercise out there – yoga, aerobic, walking, dancing, etc…

If you want to get a cheap and varied workout, check out DVDs or videos from your local library – it’s free! If you prefer to own your own, go to where you can usually find used/cheaper versions than buying them brand new from the original manufacturer.


If you’ve got a computer and internet access, you’ve got a lot of variety available to you at your finger tips. Some of the top selling workouts are available for free on Youtube such as:

Jillian Michaels: Yoga Meltdown

Denise Austin: Ultimate Fat Burn Workout

Julianne Hough: Dancing Workout

Get creative, type in an activity you like and see what pops up.

In Home Gym

If you prefer to workout on equipment but don’t want to go to the gym. Look on your local Craigslist for used exercise equipment. Some people are just giving this stuff away for free or at deeply discounted prices.

Mandy Seay is a registered and licensed dietitian. She works as a nutrition consultant in Austin, Texas, specializing in diabetes, weight loss, lipid control and preventative nutrition. For more health articles and nutrition information, check out Mandy’s website Nutritionistics.

***Mandy is not affiliated with any products listed in her blog, nor is she being compensated, in any way, by any food/exercise company.

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A Different Way of Eating – Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

I know what you’re thinking….Vegetarian, vegan – whoa – no way!!! I used to think that too. But as a dietitian, I’ve known that this way of eating is extremely healthy, but secretly thought that veganism, especially, was extreme…. that is until  after reading some very interesting research.

vegetarian dishes

First let me say, this article was not written in an effort to convince you to stop eating all animal products – I get it, I love my meats, cheeses, and milk, but after reading the literature, it  made me think, well I could probably give up some of that, if not just for a few meals or days during the week. Perhaps the information will move you to make some changes in your diet too.

Vegan / Vegetarian – What Does that Mean?

Vegetarians usually do not eat any meat. However, some vegetarians may eat products made with animal products like cheese, milk, eggs and sometimes fish. These people often call themselves lacto-ovo vegetarians or lacto-pesca vegetarians or any other combination.

A vegan diet, which is also vegetarian, is void of any and all animal products – anything that comes from an animal and any food that might be made with something from an animal. The main staples are fruits, vegetables, dried beans, peas, grains, seeds and nuts.

A more recent term, Flexitarian, is a person who eats vegetarian mostly but does eat meat on rare occasion.

Nutritional Benefits

First of all, if your diet is rich in grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts – you’re getting a ton of nutrients from your food, very little cholesterol (or none if vegan) and low saturated fat intake. Typically these people have higher intakes of fiber, potassium, magnesium, folate, antioxidants, vitamin C, E and phytochemicals….need I go on?

Vegetarians are usually leaner than meat eaters and have lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease, lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer.

Diabetes Research on Vegan Diets

Research shows that vegan diets promote a healthy weight; improve blood sugar thereby reducing medications and complications, cardiovascular disease.

In one research study following people with diabetes prescribed vegan diets, subjects were told they could not have any animal products, and had to limit fat (oils)  but could eat as much food as they wanted. The results, they lost weight, significantly reduced their blood sugar numbers, and found that the amount of carbohydrates (excluding sugary sweets) eaten by vegans did not affect their blood sugar nearly as much as it did for those who consumed animal products. That’s good news for pasta and rice lovers with diabetes!!!

Nutrition Concerns

Vegans and vegetarians can face a few nutritional deficiencies if they aren’t careful.

Protein: many people think that protein is hard to get for people on vegetarian/vegan diets, but in actuality, protein is in just about everything we eat – it’s in grains, it’s in cereal, it’s  in vegetables, it’s in dairy – next time look at a food label that you think has no protein, and I bet it will have some. Another misconception is that we need loads of protein. The average person only needs about 50-60 grams of protein a day. Most people get 2-3 times that.

Vitamin B-12: To prevent anemia, it is important to get your B vitamins. These can be obtained in a vegetarian way through dairy products, leafy green vegetables, beans, and peas. Many cereals and some breads have added B vitamins. If you prefer, you can use nutritional yeast which has a nutty/cheesy flavor that is loaded with B vitamins.

Iron: Good vegetarian sources include dried beans, dried fruits, eggs, fortified cereals, tuna and whole grains. Iron from fruits and vegetables is not as easily absorbed by the body as it is from meat. So some things to increase absorption include cooking your food in a cast iron skillet and eating a vitamin C rich fruit with your meal. Also avoiding coffee and/or tea 2 hours before or after a meal is important, these can bind up iron so that your body won’t absorb it.

Calcium: Foods rich in calcium include milk, cheese, yogurt,  leafy, green vegetables and fortified soy and almond milks.

My easy/quick solution – Eat Total cereal with a fortified soy/almond milk. Total has quite a few of these nutrients at 100%, just make sure to wait 2 hours before drinking any coffee.

What You Can Do

Start small – aim to eat a couple of vegetarian or vegan meals a week, then if you find that you enjoy them, try to replace more meals that have meat in them. Eventually you may want to graduate to a vegan diet, even if it’s just a couple of days a week – it will still make a remarkable difference in your health.

For a starter kit to help you go vegetarian or vegan, go here.

Here are a few recipes that I’ve tried personally that are delicious!

Sun Dried Tomato Pasta


  • 8 ounce penne pasta
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/2 block firm tofu, pressed (optional)
  • salt, to taste


In a large saucepan, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Add the penne pasta and cook according to package directions.

As the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce. Place the minced garlic in a large bowl. Add the walnuts, sun-dried tomatoes, oil and basil. Mash in the tofu and mix well with a spoon.

When the pasta is ready, drain, and add to the mixture in large bowl. Toss all ingredients until pasta is well-coated. Pour onto a platter and serve at room temperature or chilled. Servings: 4

Calories/Serving: 279

Nutrition: One serving provides approximately: 279 calories, 13 g protein, 22 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 17 g fat (2 g saturated), 19 mg cholesterol, 63 mcg folate, 3 mg iron, 135 mg sodium.

Couscous and Zuchini


  • 1 garlic whole wheat couscous
  • 1/2  cup pine nuts or walnuts (cheaper)
  • 3  tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1  15.5 oz can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 yellow zucchini sliced thinly
  • 2 bunches swiss chard (or spinach)
  • 3/4  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  black pepper


  1. Cook couscous as directed
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, over low heat, toast the pine nuts, shaking the pan frequently, until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Return the skillet to medium heat, add the oil, and heat for 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add zucchini and saute until slightly soft.
  4. Add the chickpeas, chard/spinach, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chard/spinach is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Fluff the couscous with a fork and divide among individual plates. Top with pine nuts or walnuts.

Veggie Gyro
  • 1  container (6 ounces) plain, low-fat yogurt, liquid drained (if any)
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1  clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1  tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1  tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  • 4 whole-wheat pitas
  • 1/2  head iceberg lettuce, sliced
  • 1/2  small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2  large plum tomatoes (about 1/2 pound), sliced
  • 1  package (8 ounces) garlic-and-herb flavored feta cheese, crumble


1. To make sauce: Stir together yogurt, cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Cover and chill 30 minutes.
2.Assemble gyros: Wrap pitas in damp paper towel and microwave for 20 seconds. Place puffed-side down on plates. Down the middle of each, evenly layer lettuce, sauce, onion, tomato slices and feta. Fold up both sides like a taco.
Nutrition information
Per serving: Calories 393, Total Fat 17 g, Saturated Fat 10 g, Cholesterol 43 mg, Sodium 1111 mg, Carbohydrate 46 g, Fiber 7 g, Protein 21 g.

(******Mandy has no affiliation with Total Cereal)

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Exercise – it Does a Body (and So Much More) Good!

Sure, you’ve heard that exercise is great for reducing your risk for various diseases (cardiovascular, diabetes, cancer, etc.), helps you control your weight, boosts your energy, strengthens your muscles and bones, and increases your chances of living longer….but exercise also does so much more…

exercise, healthy, health, better sleep

Improves Sleep

Having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep? Regular exercise will help you fall asleep faster and deeper. Be careful not to exercise too close to bedtime or you may be too energized to fall asleep. Some people report struggling with sleep the first few days after starting a new exercise program due to increased energy levels, but stick with it and you’ll find sleep will come easily.

Improves Your Sex Life

Regular exercise not only gives you more energy, but also makes you feel and look better which can positively affect your sex life. Additionally, according to the Mayo Clinic, regular physical activity can lead to enhanced arousal for women and, for men, less problems with erectile dysfunction.

Improves Your Mood

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report: “Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age. It can also reduce your risk of depression… Research has shown that doing aerobic or a mix of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities 3 to 5 times a week for 30 to 60 minutes can give you these mental health benefits.”

May Help Prevent or Manage Addictions (Food, Drugs, or others)

According to the National Institutes of Health, animal research shows that exercise can help promote the formation of blood vessels in the brain, makes connections between cells, enhances repair of nerve tissue, and creates new neurons in memory areas of the brain. Exercise also improves tolerance of stress—which is very important considering the links between stress and food and/or drug abuse. More research is demonstrating that exercise may boost brain volume and replenish dopamine receptors (responsible for pleasure), thereby helping reduce the need to search out more food, drugs, etc.


Just about everyone can do something. But consult your doctor before taking on a vigorous exercise program.

Start with just a couple of days a week and work your way up to most days of the week. Aim for a total of 150 minutes of activity a week. You can even break it down to 10 minute increments. For example – a 10 minute walk with the dog in the morning before work. Then another 10 minutes around the building during your break at work. And then finish up with another 10 minute walk with the dog after work.

Here are some other easy ways to get in activity:

  • Jump rope during commercials
  • Lift a dumb bells when on the phone at work
  • Take a walk for half of your lunch break
  • Use a resistance band while watching a movie or your favorite tv show
  • Park far away at work so that you get double the workout
  • Volunteer to walk/jog a dog at the local shelter
  • Form a wellness group at work to help keep motivation high

Get exercising ! To get the most benefit, stay consistent. Make it a priority!

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Seven Habits that Can Wreck Your Weight and Health

So you know that eating healthy and exercise are the keys to getting healthy and preventing chronic disease. But did you know that having even just one bad habit can destroy all of your efforts?  Below are some of the more common habits that can make getting healthy difficult.

Sitting All Day

If you are the type of person who sits all day at work only to come home to sit some more, you are not only hindering weight loss, but also your general health. According to the National Library of Medicine,people who sit for 11 hours or more a day are 40 percent more likely to die over the next three years regardless of how physically active they are otherwise. Try to find time during your day to periodically stand – you’ll burn more calories and improve your circulation. Stand when you’re on the phone, if you’re taking a break or when reading something. If you can walk around, this is even better. Instead of calling or sending an email to someone just down the hall, get up and go see them personally.

Mindless Eating

Eating in front of the television, eating while working, eating while reading as well as eating out of the bag or box are characteristics of eating mindlessly. When you consume food without paying attention, you tend to eat faster and bigger portions because you aren’t really taking the time to enjoy it or listen to your body’s hunger and satiety cues.  Instead, enjoy your meals with friends or family, talking in between bites will help you slow down and really savor what you are eating.

Too Much Screen Time

Working on the computer, watching television, playing games on your computer or phone – all of these are harmful to your weight. When using a screen, the body actually burns fewer calories than if you were reading a book or sleeping. Limit your screen time on the weekdays and try to minimize it on the weekends.

Eating Out Too Often

The average American eats out 5 times a week. The majority of food available at restaurants and fast food establishments has very little nutrition but does offer high amounts of calories, fat, and sodium. Ask your server how your dish is prepared – is the salmon cooked in butter, is it possible to have the vegetables served plain, can you get your dressing on the side? Try to limit eating out to 1-2 times a week to keep you weight – and health in check.

Not Reading the Nutrition Label

Simply reading the marketing on a can, box or bag  is an easy way to get yourself in trouble. Additionally, just believing something is good because it says “natural” or “organic” is also another trick marketers hope will get you to buy without doing more digging. Examples of foods that many people think are healthy choices but are not are Caesar dressing, ranch dressing, veggie chips, fruit juice, sugary tea drinks, muffins and Alfredo sauce.

If you want to learn how to read a food label read my post: How to Read  a Food Label Correctly

Drinking Your Calories

Drinking things like alcohol, Kool-aid, regular sodas, punch, juice, and any other drink with sugar in it can pack on the pounds quickly. The body does not seem to register liquid calories the same as solid food calories. Solid food leads to a feeling of fullness, where liquid calories do not. People who drink sodas with their meals can easily add 100-500 calories without any change in appetite.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Resources, research suggests that even low to moderate consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages can lead to increased internal inflammation, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and more.

If you drink sugar sweetened beverages, switch to a no calorie beverage (Crystal light, diet soda, light tea), water, or milk instead.

Exercising Infrequently

Sure exercising is good for you and some is better than none, but if you just exercise once a week every other week you aren’t going to greatly affect your health or your weight. Conversely, exercising too much only to get injured and have to stop exercising for weeks is not helpful either. The way to achieve good health is consistency. Start by finding something you like to do – do you prefer to walk, go to the gym, play tennis or do yard work? Once you find something you like to do make a routine of it. Aim to do something daily for 30 minutes. If you can’t make it to do your usual activity daily, find ways to exercise at work – go on a walk at lunch, walk the stairs on your breaks, park far away or get a desk bicycle that you can put under your desk.

Mandy Seay is a registered and licensed dietitian. She works as a nutrition consultant in Austin, Texas, specializing in diabetes, weight loss, lipid control and preventative nutrition. For more health articles and nutrition information, check out Mandy’s website Nutritionistics.